Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo was living in luxury from the bribe money he allegedly received, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said as it formally announced charges against the politician late yesterday evening.
Edhy was arrested at Soekarno-Hatta Airport immediately after his return from Hawaii early yesterday morning on suspicion of receiving bribes in connection with lobster larvae export permits issued by the ministry. In December 2019, Edhy infamously rolled back a ban on lobster larvae exports, introduced by his predecessor Susi Pudjiastuti in 2016, to meet high demand for the commodity abroad.
In a press conference, KPK said Edhy spent IDR750 million (US$53,059) of the bribe money he received to buy luxury goods during his three-day Hawaii trip. It was this splurge, KPK noted, that alerted the anti-graft body to the bribery scheme.
“There was an IDR750 million shopping spree [by Edhy Prabowo and his wife] in Honolulu from Nov. 21 to Nov. 23 in which a Rolex watch, Tumi and LV bags, and an Old Navy shirt were bought,” KPK Deputy Chief Nawawi Pomolango said.
Other luxury goods allegedly obtained by Edhy and accomplices using bribe money were also paraded during the press conference, including an Hermès bag and a road bike from US-based manufacturers Specialized.
KPK said Edhy received IDR3.4 billion and US$100,000 in bribe money in total from lobster larvae exporters. Six other people have been charged with bribery, including ministry staff and an exporter, but not Edhy’s wife, whose legal status is still that of a witness in the case. Two people in connection with the case have been declared fugitives.
The total bribe money in the case amounts to IDR9.8 billion, KPK said, and the anti-graft body is investigating whether the bribe was given by only a few companies in an association of 40 lobster export companies, or if the whole association was involved.
Edhy and those suspected of receiving bribes may face up to 20 years in prison, while the bribe-giver may face up to five years in prison.
During the press conference, Edhy apologized to President Joko Widodo and his party leader Prabowo Subianto for betraying their trust in him. The minister owned up to his “mistake” and promised to take responsibility for his actions.
While Edhy’s resignation from the ministry hasn’t been formally announced, his superior Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan has been named as an interim replacement to lead the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.
Edhy is the third minister from President Jokowi’s administration to be arrested for corruption, after former Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi and Social Affairs Minister Idrus Marham.